Maura's Angel

Lynne Reid Banks, Author
Lynne Reid Banks, Author HarperCollins Publishers $14 (128p) ISBN 978-0-380-97590-7
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-380-79514-7
Prebound-Other - 150 pages - 978-0-606-16353-8
Hardcover - 978-0-435-12309-3
Prebound-Glued - 150 pages - 978-0-613-17826-6
Hardcover - 978-0-14-031842-5
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Banks (Angela and Diabola) paints a touching portrait of growing up amid the upheavals in Belfast in this coming-of-age fantasy. Maura has learned early in life about struggle and hardship. Political violence has claimed the life of one brother, another is in jail because of an informer and her father has gone off to fight with the Irish Republican Army. Left to help care for a retarded sister and two younger brothers, Maura has become cynical and resentful. Nevertheless, when a bomb causes havoc--and alters her usual route home--magic enters Maura's life in the form of an angel (which Banks suggests is her biological twin, Angela, who died at birth). As Maura teaches Angela how to walk, eat and sleep, and how to cope with the harshness around them, the two learn valuable lessons from each other: Angela shows Maura that asking why and trying to change the course of events can be dangerous, while Maura's family circumstances demonstrate to Angela that human life can be painful and imperfect. Banks's attention to the consequences of men going off to war and leaving their families to fend for themselves is powerful, especially in combination with her emphasis on the ways gentleness, kindness and music alleviate some of the pain (e.g., Angela's effect on the retarded sister). The author's skillful balancing of the magical elements and often grim reality that life holds will ring true for many young readers. Ages 8-12. (May)
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